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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Is Impairment Rating? Full Guide for Victims

The impairment rating is possibly one of the most crucial concepts when it comes to Texas workers' comp law.

It's a concept that has been around for a few decades now. Doctors rely on it by using the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, published by the American Medical Association.

When an injured employee decides to file a Texas workers' compensation case, they must be aware of the law and do everything they can to get the best results possible.

A workers' comp claim does not only include medical records. The person's impairment rating is also essential, and reading this article will help victims understand why. It explains what they should know on the matter and why they should get expert legal help.

Impairment Rating: A Simple Definition

Impairment Rating: A Simple Definition

In Texas, impairment ratings are numbers that reflect the magnitude with which a worker's injury has affected their lives.

Impairment ratings allow judges to decide how much compensation a worker should receive after sustaining an injury.

A straightforward way to explain it is by comparing it to getting rare or collectible items. Collectors will classify them as 'fair,' 'very good,' or 'mint.' An impairment rating uses the same concept but applies to Texas workers.

How Does Texas Law Calculate Impairment Rating?

An injured worker will only get an impairment rating after they reached maximum medical improvement.

What Is Maximum Medical Improvement?

Generally, they reach this state when their doctor decides that it's unlikely their injuries will get any better.

At the same time, injured workers can get maximum medical improvement (MMI) if they've received temporary income benefits for two years.

Doctors will conduct a special examination when the injured worker receives MMI. During the assessment, they'll determine the person's physical condition by evaluating different factors, such as physical pain, range of motion, and strength.

After the exam, the doctor will assign an impairment rating using the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. It's a book that physicians rely on to compare their findings with specific criteria.

If a person suffers from a work-related injury and hurts their hand, they can go and get medical treatment. After a while, the doctor might determine that it's unlikely their issue gets any better.

The victim might, for example, be unable to bend a couple of fingers. They may also experience ongoing, dull low-back pain.

Now, the doctor could assign an impairment rating of 25 for the person's hand and 10 for their back after their evaluation.

Overall, the higher the number, the less function the injured worker will have in that part of their body.

Why Does Impairment Rating Matter?

An impairment rating evaluation and its subsequent results are essential because it helps determine how much the workers' compensation claim is worth.

In other words, in Texas, impairment ratings will determine how much money the person gets from the insurance company.

Other factors can also affect how much the worker gets. However, the impairment rating is crucial.

Impairment Income Benefits: Help for Victims

An injured worker who cannot get better no matter the medical treatment they get may be unable to go back to work.

In some cases, they can return to work, but they're not as efficient as they used to be. Therefore, they might get less pay.

Victims shouldn't have to deal with these consequences because they're not at fault for having suffered a work-related injury.

Fortunately, Texas workers' compensation law allows employees to file a claim if they've suffered an injury that does not allow them to engage in their regular activities.

When filing a claim, victims can get impairment income benefits. It does not change the fact that they're injured, but it can help them financially.

How Much Compensation Can Victims Get for Permanent Impairment?

In Texas, injured workers who have a permanent impairment due to a work-related injury can get IIBS or impairment income benefits.

According to State Law, there is a sort of permanent impairment rating calculator. Each point allows injured workers to receive three weeks of income, equalling 70% of their weekly wage.

The rule applies as long as the amount doesn't exceed 70% of the state average weekly wage, which varies every year. Victims can find it online.

Overall, the best way to understand how the calculator works is by using an example. A worker named Andrew earns $1,000 each week, on average, before he hurts himself while working.

When Andrew reaches his MMI, the doctor assigns him an impairment rating of 30%. Therefore, Andrew will receive IIBs of 70% of $1,000 for 90 weeks. In other words, he'll get $700 per week.

It's crucial to note that injured workers can receive other types of benefits asides IIBs. These are some of them:

  • Supplemental Income Benefits (SIBs)

  • Lifetime Income Benefits (LIBs)

  • Workers' Compensation

To get each of these benefits, workers will need to fulfill certain requirements. Therefore, working with a legal expert is critical.

What Victims Should Do If They Don't Agree with Their Impairment Rating

Victims who don't agree with their impairment rating should contact Schuerger Shunnarah right away. It's a law firm that specializes in helping clients in need, and its lawyers are ready to aggressively defend them if they need to.

The Texas permanent impairment rating system is supposed to work correctly. Victims should get unbiased, consistent numbers. However, the truth is that it's far from perfect.

On one hand, doctors can have different opinions. While one physician might say the person's impairment rating is 10%, another one could disagree and say it's 15% or 20%.

Furthermore, the insurance company might pay the doctors who determine the impairment ratings. Even though physicians should have no biases, having a financial connection often leads them to assign lower numbers to save the business from spending so much money.

In turn, it motivates the company to send more injured workers to the doctor, so they assign other impairment ratings.

Consequently, physicians might chronically assign low impairment ratings, even if they're unfair.

Impairment Rating: A Simple Definition

Impairment Rating: A Simple Definition

Filing a Texas workers' compensation claim can be a hassle, especially if there's a wrong impairment rating involved.

A workers comp lawyer in Houston is the best professional to help people during this process because they can prove that the person is suffering even if they reached maximum medical improvement.

There are other reasons why victims should hire legal professionals. Here are some of the most relevant ones:

They Shouldn't Go Through the Process Alone

Whether victims are filing for workers' compensation or fighting to get a better impairment rating, they shouldn't go through it alone.

Legal experts are prepared, and they understand every aspect of Texas law. Therefore, they'll provide victims with accurate counsel depending on their case, helping them understand the process and making sure they make the best decisions.

When someone files for workers' compensation, they're most likely in pain. They can also be very upset because they're unable to go back to the work they loved. In some cases, they could be stressed since they can't earn as much money as they used to.

Lawyers understand that victims are going through all of this, and at Schuerger Shunnarah, attorneys are ready to aggressively defend their clients. They'll evaluate their impairment rating and the details of their case, and they'll help them file a claim and get the best outcomes possible.

Lawyers Will Help Victims Through the Process

Even if victims have reached MMI, getting an impairment rating or filing a claim can be very stressful and mentally taxing.

Attorneys at Schuerger Shunnarah are committed to helping their clients, so they'll help victims navigate the intricacies of Texas law. They can answer questions like, "Does Texas limit damages for wrongful death?"

Victims shouldn't feel stressed if they're already hurt and in pain. Lawyers understand this, so they'll do everything in their hands to guarantee that the process is as smooth as possible.

They'll Improve Their Chances in Court

If the case goes to court, victims should always rely on a legal expert to help them. They'll aggressively use all the necessary arguments to make sure they get the best results.

Generally, workers' compensation cases don't go to court because insurance companies prefer settling. However, in some instances, it might be necessary because the victim may not get as much money as they should.

Having legal help throughout the process can increase victims' chances of getting the best results possible.

No one knows what will happen in the future, but lawyers understand Texas law and are willing to do what's necessary to help victims in need. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on topics like, "Why do employers fight workers comp claims?"

Getting Expert Help Today

Chances are victims now understand why impairment rating is crucial for a Texas workers' compensation case.

People will not only have to go through impairment evaluations; they will have to compare their current pain with their normal pre-injury condition. If the compensation they get doesn't match what they've lost, it might be time to file a claim.

Attorneys are the ideal professionals to help victims through this process. They're most likely already in pain due to their workplace injury, so getting legal help is crucial. At Schuerger Shunnarah, lawyers are ready to guide people in need.


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